Thursday, August 31, 2017

Maddie Time-Lapse Video - Rebelle 2/Power Director 15 - Surface Studio

This video runs a bit longer than the average time-lapse demo video because I wanted to allow the viewers to see there's no trickery involved in the portrait's completion. I started with a freehand sketch, no erasing, and used Rebelle's watercolors, a couple of brushes and a blender to complete the image . This project took a few hours to complete and a bit more to edit and process the video. There really isn't any excuse as to why any artist or student the world over with at least a mobile tablet or crap laptop can't produce great work. I used a Surface Studio to produce this, sure, but I've completed similar work with a $200 Google Nexus 7 and a $5 app same as many other artists you can find on social media. More powerful tools just make for an easier time using advanced techniques. If anyone, including offices, can't produce great work in this day and age with the insane amount of technology at our disposal (yes, I've witnessed companies that get paid ridiculous sums of money to produce dreadful work), then that's just tragic and could make anyone question the validity of the human race.

Foolish Mortals! You Will Pay for Your Insolence! - Rebelle - Surface Studio

This project came out of nowhere. An artist on Facebook named John created a rough painting of Maddie, a girl that took a photo while making a hilarious facial expression. I really liked his rendition and said as much mentioning that I didn't blame him for painting Maddie because the photo is awesome. He thanked me and suggested that I give a drawing and/or painting a go. I thought about it for a couple of minutes and decided to do just that. John got permission for me to paint Maddie from Maddie's momma and here we are. The conversation took place yesterday but I didn't plan on having my version completed until Friday. Fortunately, time freed up earlier so I was able to knock it out in about 6 hours. A large portion of the creative process behind this project was recorded too. Later today, it'll be edited and uploaded for the blog. I'd do it now but I'm beat. 😴

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Google Sites (New version) - Digital Canvas

Digital Canvas Google Site

Want to give Sites a go? Try this.

A few hours were spent testing out Google's updated website building tools under Sites. I created a simple version of my G+ Digital Canvas collection as a Google Site. The good news, Sites are very straight forward with easy to use tools for building simple websites. The collaborative tools are also really good. Anyone familiar with collaborating within Google Docs, Sheets or Slides will immediately be at home here. I also like the hooks that tie directly into Google Drive and Google Photos as they are very convenient and easy to use. Image cropping is fantastic and even works for animated .gif files which is something I haven't seen anywhere else on the web. Adding photos and videos are also very easy to do especially if you have your own YouTube channel. Sites gives the option to test run your design in a smartphone, tablet and computer screen view to ensure everything works as intended. This isn't anything new as other development tools offer options to view builds cross platform. But I appreciate the fact that Google's option actually works. Google certainly knows how to keep users roped into their services. 

The bad news is the tools are straight forward but very limited. Custom URLs aren't possible as far as I've seen and there are no advanced transition or gallery display options. Technically speaking, one could build an advanced presentation in Slides and import it into the site to alleviate this problem. I may even attempt such a solution myself soon. But it would have been more convenient to have such features built into the construction tools. I use Skyfonts/Google Fonts on my Surface devices but they are not available with Sites. Customization options for themes and layouts are very limited. Customization in general is very limited. But considering the tools are free, Sites is a good option for anyone that needs a website that's simple without too many hoops to jump through. 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Whirling Swordsman WIP - Sketchbook Pro 7 - Surface Studio

2D character animation takes a ridiculous amount of drawings to work. Sometimes it's better to not think about the number of drawings needed to get an idea to work. Just do it. With this sequence I wanted to animated a practice sequence for one of my characters. The idea is there. But I need to add frames to smoothen out the motion more.

* - 82617 - I made some corrections and changes to update the animation. This part of the sequence is a good place to stop before clean up which I'll tackle some time later. There are other animations I'd like to try before finalizing this project. Also, I could have cheated this and animated on 2s (duplicate each drawing to smoothen the motion) or change the animation speed using Power Director but that's lame. In order to get the really smooth motion you see hear, I animated on 1s (no duplication of frames) at 30 frames per second instead of 24 for much smoother movement that almost looks rotoscoped at times (Rotoscope is an animation technique that's basically tracing over live action film for smooth motion, cheating 101). It's much more work and harder to control in terms of speed, but smooth movement is key. This animation runs a bit faster than I anticipated but it gives me a good motion reference for timing future projects. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Ha! WIP - Sketchbook Pro 7/Clip Studio EX - Surface Studio

Another quickie animation test, just having a bit of fun trying out whatever comes to mind. In this animation, I was practicing pacing. adding frames to build a bit of anticipation just before the jump and then adding frames during the height of the jump to build anticipation again just before the fall and rotation. The landing didn't come out quite like I imagined but that can be worked on later or practiced again in a different piece. I still prefer 2D animation over 3D animation because  a lot of 3D animation starts to look the same after a time. 2D animation still has a uniqueness that not many artists translate into 3D projects. Even in gaming, a lot of assets that make up a 3D project are imported from other projects or in some cases packaged art that can be purchased from various online stores. Make no mistake, 3D animation is great in its own right but 2D is my preference being more expressive and it allows me to actually draw. Animation in general is a lot of work, but it's always fun seeing the motion come to life on screen. 

Animation Test Stuffs - Sketchbook Pro 7/Clip Studio EX - Surface Studio

In preparation for the next series of projects, 2D animation is the focus. Animating on Surface devices is not hard at all. I was able to sketch out this walk cycle earlier this morning in about an hour or so. Sketchbook Pro 7 is a great application for this and can be had for a ridiculously low price, as low as $40 on Amazon last I checked. The animation tools are simple giving users a timeline and nearly full access to all of the tools one would use for illustration. The limitations come in the layers section which are limited to foreground, midground and background only. New layers can not be added and layer effects aren't available. This may seem like a deal breaker initially but I don't believe it is. 2D character animation is generally simplistic. Sketchbook Pro 7 focuses on the pencil test which is the foundation of 2D character animation. It is very intuitive in allowing users to quickly and easily animate an idea. Importing frames, backgrounds, illustrations etc is also very straight forward. If layer effects and things of that nature are needed, these can be added using Clip Studio EX which gives full access to layer effects per animation cel which is awesome but this comes at a price which I'll specify below. Other applications that can be used for layer effects are AfterEffects, Premiere, Power Director, Color Director and many other video production applications. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Grrr Monsters - Rebelle/ArtFlow/Clip Studio EX/Quark 2017 - Nexus 9/Surface Pro 3/SurfaceBook/Surface Studio

This is a test banner I created to use for a YouTube channel but due to the way Google implements channel art, this doesn't work. The problem is Google recommends a resolution of 2560x1440 which works for HDTV screens. But it absolutely sucks for smartphones and computer screens. I need a resolution of 2560x420 and designed a banner specifically for that resolution but Google won't allow uploads at that specification. Google gives us the option to crop art but it's so limited to the extent of being pointless. Amazing isn't it? Google can forge ahead and implement one of the world's most advanced AI but can't enable YouTube to allow more than one version of channel art so users can more easily support multiple device types without butchering their art. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Heroes - Quark 2017 - Surface Studio

These are a couple of banner ideas featuring some of the characters that were worked on over the last few weeks. I'm still trying out different arrangements but I really like the two posted here. The first is a favorite because of the connection the characters share in the story. The second I really like for similar reasons. Other arrangements will be posted a couple of days or so. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Speed painting practice - Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook

I'm a bit burned out on character stuff so I did a quickie today. Instead of approaching it in a straight forward manner, this was created by literally just splattering paint on a canvas and seeing if something good could come out of it. No pencil sketch was used or other prep work but I did use Brandon Lee as a loose reference. The goal wasn't to make the painting look like him but to make the final not look like shit.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Chiamak Version 2 - Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook

This is finally done or at least, as done as this version can be at this point. I wanted her character to be a bit more distinct from Tau and Ar'Kamun but sharing certain aspects of their look. The yellow eyes are shared with the two men and others of their group for story specific reasons I'll talk about later. The spears and shield were switched for two swords to make Chiamak a bit different from her counterparts. The swords also match her personality better than spears and a shield. 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Spellcasting Londisa Update - Clip Studio EX - Surface Studio

While waiting for the SurfaceBook to finish processing a different project (I REALLY hope Microsoft offers a Ryzen 7 option in the next SurfaceBook or Threadripper in a new Surface Studio) I decided to tool around with an older project. This is an update to an idea I started on a Nexus 7 tablet using ArtFlow. It was later transferred to my Surface devices and updated in 2016. This update was centered around the lighting and creating a powerful blue tone to the overall project. Unfortunately, I didn't have the original line art on the Studio, that's still on the Nexus 7 which is packed up so I worked with the updated colored version from 2016 using added layers while changing existing layers to complete what you see here. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Fresh Produce: HellBlade: Senua's Sacrifice - Power Director 15/Game DVR - Surface Studio

This is a long play video I recently posted on YouTube that shows all of the solutions to Valravn's puzzles and how to defeat him. HellBlade is also a shining example of superb art direction and a master level example of what can be done with Unreal Engine 4 (which is free for all BTW). Ninja Theory, the developers of HellBlade have also had a flair for cinematic game design since their debut with Heavenly Sword on PS3 but HellBlade is the first game they've released that comes together really well without any glitches or dealbreaking controversy. The game also makes some powerful statements about mental illness as Senua is mentally, a very disturbed young woman.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Chiamak version 2 WIP - Rebelle - Surfacebook

I like the original drawing of Chiamak but the painting didn't come together as well as I expected. Instead of repainting it, I decided to just redesign the character from the ground up and change the color scheme. She's coming along nicely.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Chiamak - Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook

This version is done but I'm not totally thrilled with it. I'll try again later. But it's a lazy Sunday so time for Sucky Movie Sundays on Netflix.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

WIP - Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook

I have to change her name and haven't come up with anything good yet. She fights closely with Tau, Ar'Kamun and another character that is in need of a name change.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Tau - Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook

Tau, the oldest active member of the elite warriors of the current rulers of the kingdom where the fantasy story begins. He is also the husband to Arjana who I posted a few days ago. As I mentioned previously, this project is an updated version of Tau, who was created long ago. His purpose in the story hasn't changed but his look has been slightly modified. The elite warriors that Tau leads of which Ar'Kamun (posted here) is a member are the absolute best of the best warriors among all warriors in the kingdom. The most dangerous, most secretive missions are assigned to Tau's group and for good reason. In the entirety of the group's existence, they have only failed twice.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tau WIP - Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook

Update to an old character. The oldest member of an Order* dedicated to protecting the kingdom where the fantasy story originates. His look hasn't changed much from the original drawing except his hair. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Ar'Kamun (The Chosen*) - Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook

This started off as a quickie sketch that wasn't supposed to be anything more than that. But it became more as more time was put into it out of curiosity. It happens that way sometimes when writing out notes for a story and sketching at the same time. Also. Ar'Kamun isn't The Chosen* but there is a group that are temporarily named The Chosen* until I can find a better name for them that fits their purpose.

Arjana - Rebelle 2 - SurfaceBook

I needed a mother figure to try out an idea in the story. This turned out with a look very similar to someone I dated a couple of years ago as was mentioned in the previous post. I guess she comes to mind because she was very motherly but with a very stern, aggressive undertone that always lurked just under the surface. That aspect inspired the attraction. She was definitely interesting. No doormats, as they're only good for walking on. A woman with fire, that can hold her own is good especially when it all hits the fan. A real partner and teamwork.  This how I imagined the character. Now to finish her husband...